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Higher spending, lower income gains: How to cope with inflation and rising cost of living

The prognosis is stark. Inflation in Singapore has hit levels not seen in over a decade – and prices are not easing anytime soon.

The rising cost of living is also the biggest worry among Singaporeans, reveals a post-National Day Rally survey of 600 people by Milieu Insight.

Singapore’s core inflation – which excludes private transport and accommodation – was at 4.8 per cent last month, the highest in almost 14 years. The Monetary Authority of Singapore reckons inflation will peak next quarter, before easing towards the end of the year.

There’s not much we can do to influence global inflation. So what is the solution?

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, at Sunday’s Rally, offered an answer on a national, collective scale: “What is within our power is to make ourselves more productive and more competitive. Then our workers can earn more, and can more than make up for the higher prices of food, fuel and other imports.”

But what can you do on a personal level? It will be challenging, suggests a large-scale study by DBS released earlier this month. The study analysed anonymised data from 1.2 million customers who use DBS as their main salary-crediting bank.

Some concerns flagged by the study:

  • Higher spending, lower income gains

People are spending more each month than the year before. Expenses in May 2022 was up by 22.2 per cent, double the average income growth of 11.1 per cent. The study defined income as credited salary.

  • Lower income, higher pain

Low-income households (defined as those with income of less than $2,500) and baby boomers (ages 58 to 76) are most vulnerable to inflationary pressures. With higher spending and slower income growth, they spend almost all of their income on monthly expenses.

Is there something you can do to help yourself? Yes, say experts, if we mind the 3Ps.